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[Summary of the practice guideline 'Rheumatoid arthritis' (first revision) from the Dutch College of General Practitioners]

By T. Wiersma, S. Flikweert and W.J.H.M. van den Bosch


The guideline covers the evaluation of patients with one or more painful joints without previous injury and focuses on the distinction between rheumatoid arthritis and other joint complaints. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, the arthritis is based on aseptic synovitis and is nearly always associated with tenderness, warmth, swelling, and impaired function. Redness is not present in most cases. The diagnosis is primarily made on the basis of the case history and physical examination. Laboratory tests and X-ray are only of secondary importance. NSAIDs are recommended as the initial treatment for patients with rheumatoid arthritis or serious indications for this. If the arthritis does not settle within a period of 6 to 12 weeks after the onset of the complaints, the patient should be referred to a rheumatologist to start treatment with one or more disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). DMARDs suppress the activity of the disease and can prevent joint damage. However, which combination of DMARDs gives the best results is still unclear

Year: 2004
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Provided by: NARCIS
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